Talkers 2019: Telling the Story Videos Continue Posting Today with “Attracting Younger Demos to Talk Radio” Panel. TALKERS is continuing to post key speeches, presentations and sessions from the recent 22nd annual edition of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most-important national convention – Talkers 2019: Telling the Story. Today’s (7/19) post presents the discussion “Attracting Younger Demos to Talk Radio” featuring panelists (in alphabetical order) Mike “Bax” Baxendale, morning co-host, WAQY (Rock 102), Springfield, MA; Greg Foster, VP/programming and national news/talk brand coordinator, iHeart Media/PD, KOA, Denver; John T. Mullen, operations manager, WRHU, Hofstra University; Sid Rosenberg, morning co-host, WABC, New York; and Rich Zeoli, host, WPHT, Philadelphia. The session is moderated by Kevin Casey, VP/executive editor, TALKERS. Posted yesterday (7/18): discussion “Talk Radio in the Era of Watch What You Say” featuring panelists (in alphabetical order) Michael Berry, host, Michael Berry Show; Grace Blazer, national brand coordinator of news/talk/sports programming and director of AM programming Miami/Fort Lauderdale, iHeart Media; Karen Hunter, host SiriusXM Satellite Radio; Brett Winterble, host KFMB, San Diego; Larry Young, host, WOLB, Baltimore; and Dan Yorke, host WPRO, Providence. Already posted: WPG, Atlantic City morning personality Harry Hurley saluting the Broadcasters Foundation of America and Vince Benedetto, CEO of Bold Gold Media Group receiving the Sharon L. Harrison Memorial Award for Outstanding Community Service by a Talk Radio Broadcaster (“Humanitarian of the Year”); a special luncheon address by former Trump Administration advisor Sebastian Gorka, now a personality syndicated by Salem Radio Network; the panel discussion “Adding the Video Component to Talk Radio” featuring Howie Carr, host of the Howie Carr Show (Howie Carr Radio Network and Newsmax TV), Jared Hart, former PD, WPHT, Philadelphia, and Art Vuolo, president, Vuolo Video. The session was introduced and facilitated by Scott Lakefield, APD, WOR, New York. Already posted: the special keynote address delivered by CBS Sports Radio syndicated host Jim Rome with an introduction from Yappy Days author/college professor Bernadette Duncan; the panel discussion, “Generating Talk Radio Revenue in 2019” featuring (in alphabetical order) Asa Andrew, host, AsaRx; Vince Benedetto, CEO, Bold Gold Media Group; Suzanne Grimes, EVP/marketing, Cumulus Media and president, Westwood One; and Dave Robinett, chief marketing officer, #250-America’s Mobile Speed Dial – moderated by Erica Farber, president and CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) and introduced by renown independent station owner Michael Zwerling of KSCO/KOMY, Santa Cruz, CA; the special keynote address by Key Networks syndicated personality Bill O’Reilly; the one-on-one discussion, “Sports Talk Radio’s Role in Popular Culture” featuring a conversation between Mark Chernoff, senior VP/programming WFAN/Entercom, NY and captain/sports format, CBS Sports Radio and Mike Thomas, PD, WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub,” Boston and brand manager/spoken word, podcasts, esports, Beasley Broadcasting with Kate Delaney, host, GCN and correspondent NBC Sports Radio, serving as facilitator; the panel discussion, “Broadcasting and Podcasting,” featuring (in alphabetical order) Greg Batusic, chief operating officer, PodcastOne; Steven Goldstein, founder/CEO Amplifi Media; Michael Czarnecki, program director, WONK-FM, Washington, DC and iHeartRadio Podcast Channel; and Craig Schwalb, former program director WABC, New York and WPRO, Providence with moderation by Mike Kinosian, managing editor/West Coast bureau chief, TALKERS; the keynote “fireside chat” in which TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison interviews Premiere Networks/Fox News Channel star Sean Hannity in a casual one-on-one conversation introduced by DC Radio Company executive director Victoria Jones; the opening address titled, “Telling the Story,” delivered by Lee Habeeb, host and producer of the successful syndicated program, “Our American Stories;” RAB president/CEO Erica Farber receiving the Woman of the Year award and SiriusXM Satellite Radio star “Cousin” Bruce Morrow receiving the Lifetime Achievement award. The convention took place in New York City on Friday, June 7 and was one of the most positively received in the event’s colorful history. TALKERS plans to add one or two videos per day to those posted until all the major events of the conference are posted here at Talkers.com where they will remain on view for the rest of the year. To see the videos and convention video page, please click here.
Aftershocks of Le Batard’s POTUS Bashing. Those “send her back” chants aimed at Minnesota Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar at Wednesday’s Donald Trump rally in Greenville, North Carolina were just too much for ESPN host Dan Le Batard to take. On yesterday’s show (Thursday, 7/18), Le Batard – whose parents are from Cuba – said what happened in North Carolina “felt un-American. It was deeply offensive to me as somebody whose parents have made all the sacrifices to get to this country.” Without specifically invoking the president’s name, Le Batard said, “You’ve had every privilege afforded to you, every privilege. And now, what you do with that power? You go after brown people and black people and minorities?” Opining that a racial division exists in this country, he commented, “It’s not the America my parents aimed to get for us, for exiles, for brown people.” Taking his own network as well as the president to task, Le Batard stated, the polarization is “being instigated by the president; we here at ESPN haven’t had the stomach for that fight. Around here, we won’t talk about it, unless Russell Wilson is saying something about it on his Instagram. Nobody talks politics on anything unless they use one of these sports figures as a meat shield in the most cowardly possible way to discuss these subjects. We don’t talk about what is happening unless there’s some sort of weak, cowardly sports angle that we can run it through when sports has always been the place where this stuff changes.” Earlier today, the president denounced the “crazed media coverage” of his rally, wishing “the disgusting statements” progressive lawmakers make got as much attention. Meanwhile, an ESPN memo circulated today reminded employees about policies concerning talking “pure politics” on-air, basically saying “don’t do it.” Jemile Hill was suspended in 2017 for violating ESPN’s social media policy multiple times, including one instance where she called the president a “white supremacist.” Hill no longer works for ESPN but applauded Batard via Twitter today. Disciplinary action toward Le Batard is unclear. Today’s show began without him for the first hour – but – he later joined.
Houston’s KILT-AM Resets Lineup. As longtime afternoon host Rich Lord departs KILT-AM “Sports Radio 610,” the Entercom Houston outlet and radio flagship of the Houston Texans adjusts its on-air roster. Next Monday (7/22), co-host Sean Pendergrast segues to morning drive with Seth Payne. Taking over the 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm slot vacated by Lord and Pendergrast are KILT-AM weekly contributor/swing talent Clint Stoerner and Rick Kamla, who joins from similarly-formatted Atlanta sibling WZGC “92.9 The Game,” where he did middays. According to Entercom Houston senior vice president/market manager Sarah Frazier, “Rich did an incredible job for nearly two-and-a-half decades on [KILT-AM]. As one of the first announcers on Houston’s first sports talk station, he has played an instrumental role in building this heritage station and will always be an integral part of its legacy. We are thankful for his work ethic and contributions over the years and wish him the best. He will always be a treasured player of ‘Sports Radio 610.’” Regarding “Clint and Kamla” – the station’s new afternoon drive team – she states, “They are the perfect pair to bring informative and clear-cut opinions to the Houston listener. As a native Houstonian, Clint has a natural connection with the audience and a distinct delivery and southern charm. Rick brings to the station a national platform with instant recognition from his years at NBA TV. His passion for sports will be evident instantly. We are equally as excited to provide the Houston sports community with a revamped weekday lineup that they can connect with to and from work on a daily basis.” Lord comments, “My time at [KILT-AM] has been the most rewarding, fulfilling, and satisfying experience of my professional life. I’ll forever be grateful to Dickie Rosenfeld for bringing me aboard in 1995. My time here has meant so much to me and my family that the biggest emotion that I feel right now is gratitude.” Born and raised in Houston, Stoerner maintains that, “Football is in my DNA. ‘Sports Radio 610′ is the king of Houston sports radio, so talking sports daily to my people in south Texas is a dream come true.” Kamla adds, “I am grateful for the opportunity to co-host afternoon drive with Clint and to be part of the new lineup on ‘Sports Radio 610.’ My family and I are very excited for this adventure in an amazing city.” KILT-AM’s adjusted on-air lineup is “Payne and Pendergast” (6:00 am – 10:00 am); “In The Loop” (10:00 am – 2:00 pm); “Clint and Kamla” (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm); “Texans All Access” (6:00 pm – 7:00 pm); “The Six-Pack with Matthew Jarecki” (7:00 pm – 9:00 pm); and Matthew Jarecki (9:00 pm – 11:00 pm).
TALKERS News Notes. Heard guest-hosting on Westwood One’s 10:00 pm – 1:00 am “Jim Bohannon Show” last night (Thursday, 7/18) was Walter Sterling ….. At month’s end, Mt. Rushmore Broadcasting Casper (Wyoming) general manager/program director Kevin Barrett will leave the five-station cluster. Mt. Rushmore Broadcasting owner Jan Charles Gray remarks, “Kevin has done an outstanding job. He will continue to work with us as a consultant for our ten stations in Wyoming and South Dakota.” Barrett notes, “It has been a great experience and we’ve made a lot of progress. I’m most interested in returning to news/talk or sports talk as a program director or operations manager.” The company’s five Casper outlets are news/talk KVOC “AM 1230 – The Voice of Casper”; classic hits-oldies KMLD “Melody 94.5”; adult contemporary KHOC “Heart 102.5”; KQLT “103.7 Casper’s Original Country Station”; and KASS “Kick 107 The Rock Station.” Barrett joined Mt. Rushmore Broadcasting roughly ten months ago. His previous programming credits include KTRB, San Francisco; KTRS, St. Louis; KSEQ, Fresno; KABZ, Little Rock; KEEL, Shreveport (Louisiana); and KWXY, Palm Springs (California). Other Mt. Rushmore properties are located in Rawlins, Wyoming; Hot Springs, South Dakota; and Custer, South Dakota ….. Rob Carson filled in yesterday (Thursday, 7/18) on the 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm “Conservative Circus” on iHeartMedia Phoenix news/talk KFYI “News Talk 550” and is scheduled to do so again today (Friday, 7/19) ….. Owing to a just-announced partnership, Cadence13 has exclusive representative for motivational speaker, author, and “lifestyle influencer” Rachel Hollis’ Rise podcasts – “Rise” and “Rise Together.” In addition it will develop a Rise podcast network that will focus on personal growth, lifestyle, and wellness. Hollis – who wrote the best-selling “Girl, Wash Your Face” – comments, “I love being able to share my life experiences and what I’ve learned on my ever-evolving journey with listeners around the world. Joining a leading podcast company like Caence13 to help build and develop our network is incredibly exciting.” Cadence 13 chief content officer Chris Corcoran contends, “Rachel Hollis is nothing less than a phenomenon. Rachel’s authenticity has inspired millions. We couldn’t be more thrilled to partner with her and support her vision.” The 36-year-old Hollis hosts the “Rise” interview series, and co-hosts “Rise Together” with her husband, Dave Hollis, who is chief executive officer of The Hollis Company.
KBA WKU Radio Talent Institute Set To Get Underway. Beginning next Monday (7/22), Kentucky Broadcasters Association president Chris Winkle will welcome students from five universities as the seventh annual “KBA WKU Radio Talent Institute” begins on the campus of Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. “Winkle stresses, “We cannot stand on the sidelines wondering where the next generation of broadcasters will come from. We have to be proactive and intentional in our efforts to assist students on their journey into broadcasting, culminating with job placement.” Instant Sales Training’s Chris Lytle, who authored “The Accidental Salesperson” and “The Accidental Sales Manager,” takes on the opening session. Among those slated to lead sales and management panels are NAB executive vice president Steve Newberry; CapCity Communications Kentucky/Seven Mountains Media Pennsylvania chief executive officer Kristin Cantrell; Forever Communications Bowling Green president Christine Hillard; Forcht Broadcasting Somerset (Kentucky) president/chief executive officer Mike Tarter; Heritage Media Leitchfield (Kentucky) president/chief executive officer Mark Buckles; Commonwealth Communications Bowling Green chief operating officer Dale Thornhill; and Commonwealth Communications chief revenue officer/Swagger Institute president Derron Steenbergen. Next Friday (7/26), Alpha Media Louisville CHR WDJX “99.7 DJX – All the Hits” morning drive talents Ben Davis & Kelly K will broadcast from the institute with the students as the studio audience. Cromwell Radio Group Nashville president Bud Walters will do the closing session and the students will get certification as RAB radio marketing professionals.
New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation” Now Posted. The recently launched one-hour weekend program, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” produced by TALKERS that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media, has been posted on the website of its flagship station, iHeart Media’s WONK-FM, Washington, DC. The new episode titled “Is the President a Racist?” looks back at the week of July 15-19, 2019 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Joe Madison, talk show host, SiriusXM Satellite Radio; Dom Giordano, talk show host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Steve Weisman, law professor, Bentley University, Boston; and Peter King, correspondent, CBS News Radio, Kennedy Space Center. The show airs on WONK-FM on Friday afternoons between 6:00 pm and 7:00 pm as a recap and exclamation mark for the week in review as well as several other stations around the country including KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA and during the weekend on the Virginia Talk Radio Network as well as Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA. Hosted by Michael Harrison, this excellent show is now being made available to terrestrial news/talk stations on a market-exclusive basis. For information call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413. To listen to this week’s episode (and its complete archives), please click here.
June 2019 PPM Data – Part Four. June 2019 ratings information has been released for West Palm Beach, Greensboro, Memphis, and Hartford. Nielsen Audio’s June 2019 survey period covered May 23 – June 19. Managing editor Mike Kinosian (Kinosian@Talkers.com) provides his “Takeaways” from all four of these PPM-markets.
West Palm Beach
Spoken-Word Formats – Continuing its positive run, iHeartMedia-owned WJNO is a collective +1.1 in four successive sweeps without a loss (2.0 – 2.3 – 2.7 – 2.7 – 3.1, 6+) and repeats at #9. This is the first time “1290 The Palm Beaches’ News & Talk” reaches the three-share level (3.1, 6+) since December 2017’s 3.3. The March 2019 through June 2019 topline for co-owned news/talk WZZR “Real Radio 94.3 – Real Talk For The Palm Beaches” is: 2.0 – 2.3 – 2.3 – 2.0 (#12 to #13, 6+). It is part of a three-way #13 tie with Hubbard Broadcasting’s WFTL, which regains 75% of May’s -.4 (1.7 – 2.0, +.3, #15 to #13, 6+); “News Talk 850” improved by eight-tenths in April. While flat at #22, iHeartMedia Miami news/talker WIOD “610 News Radio” picks up two-tenths (.6 to .8, 6+).
Co-owned sports talk WBZT “1230 The Zone” posted a .1 (6+) in August 2018 but has been a “no-show” in the subsequent 11 sweeps.
Returning the one-tenth it picked up in May (2.9 – 3.0 – 2.9, 6+), Dade County School Board news/talk WLRN slips from eighth to tenth.
West Palm Beach Music Formats – In six straight upticks, iHeartMedia CHR WLDI “WiLD 95.5 The Palm Beaches’ #1 Hit Music Station” is +1.6 (2.5 – 2.7 – 3.0 – 3.3 – 3.4 – 3.9 – 4.1, fifth to fourth, 6+) and reaches the four-share level (4.1) for the first time since August 2018 (4.0). Not only does Spanish contemporary cluster-mate WRLX explode with a +1.2 (2.0 – 3.2, 6+), “Mia 92.1” vaults into the top ten (#13 to #8). This (3.2) more than doubles (+1.7) where WRLX was this time last year (1.5, 6+, June 2018). Albeit a combined -3.0 in its third successive decrease (11.2 – 9.0 – 8.8 – 8.2, 6+), Hubbard Broadcasting hot AC WRMF is #1 the sixth month in a row. “Variety from the 90s and Now” logged a +2.0 in March to 11.2, its highest 6+-share since November 2017 (11.2, as well). This (8.2), however, is its lowest since “Holiday” 2017 (8.2, as well). Having faltered by -1.0 in January, WRMF was frozen on 9.2 (6+) in January and February. Urban AC sibling WMBX “X-102.3” sputters by nine-tenths in back-to-back sweeps (5.9 – 5.0 – 4.1, 6+) but remains in fourth-place. An April gain of six-tenths took WMBX to 5.9, its highest 6+-share since May 2018’s 6.2. Following three successive West Palm Beach increases for a collective +1.0 (1.4 – 1.6 – 1.8 – 2.4, 6+), iHeartMedia Miami CHR WHYI “Y-100” is down one-tenth to 2.3 (6+) and carries on at #11. Off a combined eight-tenths in May/June (2.7 – 2.5 – 1.9, 6+), WAY Media contemporary Christian WAYF “WAY-FM Uplifting – Upbeat – Real” drifts from the top ten (#10 to #16). At the same time iHeartMedia-owned adult contemporary WOLL “Today’s Kool 105.5” substitutes May’s loss of one-tenth with a June increase of two-tenths (7.0 – 7.2, 6+), Hubbard Broadcasting’s similarly-formatted WEAT-FM “Sunny 107.9” is an overall -1.7 via three straight decreases (8.2 – 7.0 – 6.8 – 6.5, 6+). Whereas 7.2 is the best 6+-showing for “Kool” since July 2016’s 7.5, “Sunny” has its softest 6+-stat (6.5) since 5.0 in November 2018. The two AC rivals – WOLL and WEAT-FM – continue at second and third, respectively.
Spoken-Word Formats – Four successive down or flat trends by iHeartMedia news/talk WPTI “94.5 Your News, Talk, & Sports Station” account for a collective -1.2 (4.4 – 3.6 – 3.2 – 3.2 – 3.2, #12 to #11, 6+). This immediately follows January/February’s +1.4 (3.0 – 4.3 – 4.4, 6+).
The March 2019 through June 2019 topline for Curtis Media Group sports talk WSJS “Triad Sports” is: .9 – .8 – .9 – .9 (#15 to #16, 6+),
Anchored at #13 for the 14th consecutive time, Wake Forest University news/talk WFDD “88.5 Public Radio for the Piedmont” answers April’s loss of seven-tenths (2.3 – 1.6, 6+) with back-to-back (May and June) increases of two-tenths (1.6 – 1.8 – 2.0, 6+). Repeating at #17, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill news/talk WUNC logs a .8 (6+) for the third time in the last four reports (.8 – .5 – .8 – .8, 6+).
Greensboro Music Formats – In addition to cracking the top ten (#11 to #9), iHeartMedia-owned rocker WVBZ nets +1.6 in three upticks in a row (2.5 – 3.2 – 3.7 – 4.1, 6+) and “105.7 – Man Up” reaches the four-share level (6+) for the first time since November 2018 (4.0). Over and above recording a June improvement of one-half share (9.3 – 9.8, 6+), Entercom adult hits WSMW “98.7 Simon Says We Play Everything” marches from second to first. Its six most recent fluctuations are: +.9 (January); -.6 (February); +.9 (March); -1.6 (April); +1.1 (May); and +.5 (June). Prior to its March-only stay at #1, WSMW last reached #1 in August 2016 when it logged a 10.5 (6+). In tandem with “Simon” picking up one-half share and shifting from second to first, co-owned urban AC WQMG “97.1 QMG The Best R&B and Old School” falters by one-half share (9.8 – 9.3, 6+) and segues from first to second. An April increase of six-tenths pulled the plug on five straight declines that resulted in a -2.3 (11.4 – 10.8 – 10.3 – 9.9 – 9.6 – 9.1, 6+). On top in January and February, WQMG’s consecutive streak of reaching double-digits (6+) was snapped at 26 in January. Replicating May’s loss of seven-tenths (4.6 – 3.9 – 3.2, 6+), iHeartMedia CHR WMKS “100.3 Kiss-FM” departs the top ten (#9 to #11). Heading into the May sweep, “Kiss” was a collective +1.8 via four consecutive upticks (2.8 – 3.0 – 3.6 – 3.6 – 4.6, 6+). In April (2019), it reached the four-share level (4.6, 6+) for the first time since April 2018’s 4.1. Within 5.1 – 5.7 range the fifth straight report (5.7 – 5.4 – 5.2 – 5.3 – 5.1, 6+), Dick Broadcasting’s WKZL “107.5 The #1 Hit Music Station” slips from seventh to eighth. Deadlocked in sixth place are Entercom’s WPAW “93.1 The Wolf” (flat at 5.3, seventh to sixth, 6+) and iHeartMedia’s similarly-formatted WTQR “Q-104.1 – #1 for New Country” (5.7 – 5.3, -.4, unchanged at #6, 6+). In three straight sweeps without an increase, WTQR was a cumulative -1.0 (6.0 – 5.3 – 5.3 – 5.0, 6+), but erased 70% of that deficit in May with a +.7 to 5.7 (6+). Flat in March, “Q-104.1” cancelled out January’s +.7 with a February -.7 (5.3 – 6.0 – 5.3, 6+). Before dropping two-tenths in March, “The Wolf” had three consecutive shifts of one-half share: -.5 (“Holiday” 2018); +.5 (January 2019); and +.5 (February). Over the course of the last 14 sweeps (June 2018 through June 2019), WTQR has prevailed over WPAW nine times (June 2018, July, August, September, October, November, “Holiday” 2018, January 2019, and May); WPAW has come out on top four times (December 2018, February 2019, March, and April; and the two are tied in June 2019 (5.3, 6+).
Spoken-Word Formats – Even though iHeartMedia news/talk WREC picks up one-tenth to 4.2 (6+), “600 AM – Memphis’ News, Traffic, & Weather” backslides from eighth to ninth.
In five straight reports without an increase, Entercom sports talk WMFS “ESPN Sports Radio” has lost six-tenths (4.0 – 4.0 – 3.9 – 3.6 – 3.5 – 3.4, 6+), yet climbs from #12 to #11. Its internet stream appeared with a .1 (6+) in December and “Holiday” 2018; disappeared from print in January and February; but logs a .1 (6+) for the fourth straight time (flat at #18, 6+). It is again tied (at #18) with co-owned WMC-AM “ESPN 790,” which is without an increase the 12th straight time (including ten consecutive .1 showings) for a collective loss of three-tenths (.4 – .4 – .2 – .1 – .1 – .1 – .1 – .1 -.1 – .1 – .1 – .1 – .1, 6+).
Memphis Music Formats – Five straight upticks by iHeartMedia urban contemporary WHRK, including June’s +1.0, result in a +2.7 (6.8 – 7.2 – 7.5 – 7.7 – 8.5 – 9.5, 6+) as “K-97.1” advances from third to second. In addition, WHRK reaches the nine-share level (9.5, 6+) for the first time since May 2018’s 9.4. Logging its fourth consecutive increase, gospel cluster-mate WHAL “Hallelujah 95.7 – Memphis’ Inspiration Station” nets +1.6 (5.8 – 6.4 – 7.0 – 7.1 – 7.4, steady at #4, 6+) and has its best 6+-showing (7.4) since August 2015’s 7.5. Three streaks are in-play at co-owned urban AC KJMS. On the plus side, it is #1 the eighth time in a row. A loss of six-tenths though means “V-101” is down or flat the fourth straight time for a collective -1.8 (11.6 – 11.4 – 10.4 – 10.4 – 9.8, 6+). Prior to June’s 9.8 (6+), KJMS reached double-digits (6+) in each of the last 14 ratings periods. “Holiday” 2018’s 12.8 is the highest 6+-share since December 2012’s 13.5 for “V-101,” which was +2.3 in December/“Holiday” 2018 (10.5 – 11.5 – 12.8, 6+). Suffering a May 2019 – June 2019 (6+) erosion twice that of “V-101” is Cumulus Media urban-rhythmic oldies WRBO “103.5 The Best Mix of R&B” (8.7 – 7.5, -1.2, second to third, 6+). The last time WRBO (7.5) fell below an eight-share (6+) was February 2018’s 7.7. While unchanged at #6, iHeartMedia classic rock WEGR “Rock 102.7,” whose consecutive trio of improvements yielded nine-tenths (4.3 – 4.4 – 4.6 – 5.2, 6+), forfeits three-tenths to 4.9 (6+). Also in that iHeartMedia cluster, WDIA “AM 1070 – The Heart & Soul of Memphis” is -2.1 in five successive setbacks (5.3 – 4.9 – 4.8 – 3.8 – 3.5 – 3.2, #12 to #13, 6+). The market’s (6+) adult contemporary share improves by two-tenths, equally divided between Entercom’s WRVR “104.5 The River” (6.5 – 6.6, +.1, steady at #5, 6+) and Cumulus Media’s WKIM “98.9 The Bridge” (.9 – 1.0, +.1, unchanged at #16, 6+). “The River” had been an overall -2.4 in three straight declines (8.9 – 7.8 – 7.7 – 6.5, 6+) and while “Holiday” 2018’s 11.3 is its strongest 6+-performance since “Holiday” 2017’s 12.9 (#6), May’s 6.5 is its lowest since June 2017’s 6.0. Seven recent WRVR fluctuations include: +2.4 (October 2018); -1.6 (December); +2.0 (“Holiday” 2018); -3.1 (January 2019); +.7 (February); -1.1 (March); and -1.2 (May). Meanwhile, “The Bridge” squandered nearly half (-.7) its 6+ AQH-share in April/May (1.6 – 1.1 – .9, 6+) and had its lowest 6+-stat (.9, May 2019) since transitioning from urban-rhythmic oldies to AC in late-2017. “The Bridge” reached the five-share level (6+) in “Holiday” 2018, but was a combined -4.0 in January/February (5.1 – 1.3 – 1.1, 6+).
Spoken-Word Formats – Trending 7.3 – 7.6 – 7.3 – 7.4 (March 2019 through June 2019, 6+), Entercom news/talk WTIC-AM “News Talk 1080” inches up from third to second. By gaining two-tenths to 1.0 (6+), Red Wolf Broadcasting news/talk WDRC-AM pulls the plug on four consecutive sweeps without an increase that resulted in a one-half share loss (1.3 – 1.3 – 1.1 – .9 – .8, 6+). “AM 1360 The Talk of Connecticut” finished at #14 in January, February, and March, and then #15 in April, May, and June. In a true mark of consistency, iHeartMedia’s WPOP “News Radio 1410” logs a .1 (#19 to #17, 6+) the 13th report in a row; it was a “no-show” in June 2018.
Stuck on 1.8 (6+) in March and April, iHeartMedia sports talk WUCS “97.9 ESPN Hartford” follows with a combined May/June loss of three-tenths (1.8 – 1.6 – 1.5, flat at #12, 6+).
A collective -1.1 in three straight drops (5.3 – 4.7 – 4.4 – 4.2, 6+), Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network news/talk WNPR “Connecticut’s Public Media Source for News & Ideas” remains at #9. Returning 80% of April/May’s +.5 (1.6 – 1.2, -.4, 6+), University of Massachusetts-owned WFCR “New England Public Radio” slips from #12 to #13.
Hartford Music Formats – Vaulting from eighth to third, iHeartMedia classic hits-oldies WHCN “105.9 The River” is a combined +1.9 in May/June (5.3 – 5.7 – 7.2, 6+) and has its best 6+-showing (7.2) since May 2018’s 7.7. Three straight negative trends by CHR sibling WKSS produced a loss of eight-tenths (6.9 – 6.8 – 6.2 – 6.1, 6+), but “Kiss 95.7” erases that deficit completely with a combined May/June gain of eight-tenths (6.1 – 6.3 – 6.9, sixth to fourth, 6+). Having surrendered -1.9 via three drops in a row (7.9 – 6.6 – 6.5 – 6.0, 6+), Entercom rhythmic CHR WZMX “Hot 93.7” ends the slide by gaining one-tenth to 6.1 (seventh to eighth, 6+). The just-concluded streak directly followed January/February’s +1.1 (6.8 – 7.7 – 7.9, 6+). On top the 36th consecutive time, adult contemporary sibling WRCH falters by four-tenths (10.8 – 10.4, 6+). Recent “Lite 100.5” fluctuations include: -.8 (November 2018); +1.8 (December); +5.6 (“Holiday” 2018 to 18.0, the strongest 6+-showing for any Hartford station since WRCH recorded an 18.3 in “Holiday” 2017); -6.9 (January); +1.0 (February; -1.0 (March); -1.3 (April); and +1.0 (May). Prior to slipping to 9.8 in April, WRCH was in double-digits (6+) in 30 of the previous 32 sweeps. Hot AC cluster-mate WTIC-FM “96.5 TIC-FM,” which was up nine-tenths in April, erodes by a combined -2.0 in May/June (8.5 – 7.7 – 6.5, 6+), dipping from second to sixth. This is the fifth straight time that Red Wolf Broadcasting alternative WMRQ “Radio 104.1” is without an increase for a collective -1.2 (4.6 – 4.5 – 4.5 – 4.4 – 4.4 – 3.4, ninth to tenth, 6+). Segueing from fourth to fifth, iHeartMedia-owned WWYZ “Country 92.5” is a cumulative -1.0 in five consecutive negative or neutral reports (7.7 – 7.0 – 6.9 – 6.9 – 6.8 – 6.7, 6+). After three straight increases yielded a +1.1 (5.3 – 5.4 – 6.0 – 6.4, 6+), Red Wolf Broadcasting-owned WDRC-FM “102.9 The Whale – Connecticut’s Classic Rock” slips by one-tenth to 6.3 (fifth to seventh, 6+).
Meruelo Media Los Angeles’ KXOS Becomes “Cali 93.9.” Exactly as Meruelo Media president Otto Padron foreshadowed in this space yesterday (Thursday, 7/18), changes would be forthcoming at newly-acquired Los Angeles property, regional Mexican KXOS “Radio Centro 93.9.” With a bi-lingual presentation, speculation became reality yesterday at frequency-related 9:39 am when KXOS transitioned to Latin urban “Cali 93.9 – #1 for Reggaeton and More.” Padron promises that “Cali 93.9” will be “the most Caliente station in Cali – not just because the music transcends language as it has exploded into mainstream popularity, but because we will place this format on one of the most powerful radio signals in Los Angeles.” Interim program director DJ E-Man notes that “Cali 93.9” will feature “the best up-tempo hit music by today’s Latin superstars [such as] Cardi B, J Balvin, Bad Bunny, and Maluma. These artists are mass appeal; ‘Cali 93.9’ is the sound of Southern Cali.” General manager of Meruelo Media Los Angeles’ KWHY-TV, Irma Barrios, adds similar “Cali 93.9” duties, while the company’s vice president of marketing, Dianna Jason, takes over “Cali 93.9” marketing responsibilities. Air talent and other department heads will be named shortly and the station will switch call letters from KXOS to KLLI. Among persons 6+ in Nielsen Audio’s June 2019 report for Los Angeles, KXOS picks up three-tenths (.9 – 1.2, 6+) and finishes at #30.
More Music Radio News and Career Moves. The program director/brand manager for KVGS “Star 107.9” and KOAS “Jammin’ 105.7 – Kris Fisher – exits the Beasley Media Group Las Vegas hot AC and urban AC stations ….. The next installment of Country Radio Broadcasters’ CRS360 webinar series will be next Thursday (7/25) at 12:00 noon. The episode is “Country Radio 2019: Mid-Year Ratings and State of The Format Report,” and will feature KILT-FM, Houston program director Chris Huff and KNCI, Sacramento program director Joey Tack. Senior vice president of promotion for MCA Nashville, Katie Dean, will be the moderator. CRS executive director RJ Curtis notes that this episode will examine “national shares in key demos, comparing PPM and diary-measured markets, and highlight success stories in certain markets, and, at specific stations. The July session will include a broader ‘state of the format’ discussion, with a goal of identifying potentially strong music trends, emerging artists, and how country radio can better compete with other platforms exposing country music. The purpose of our monthly CRS360 webinar is to provide valuable, timely information and actionable takeaways which help our constituents better serve their respective communities, and broaden the appeal of country music.” Viewing CRS360 is free, but those interested should pre-register ….Former one-year morning drive co-host on Cumulus Media Atlanta’s country WKHX “Kicks 101.5,” Ali Mac, arrives for morning drive duty on Cox Media Group Jacksonville adult contemporary WEZI “Easy 102.9.” WEZI operations manager/program director Todd Shannon notes that Mac is “an amazing talent with so much energy, passion and enthusiasm.” She had been part of the “Kicks” wakeup show with Cadillac Jack before exiting this past January ….. Recent University of Illinois graduate Gavin Granstrom joins contemporary Christian WAY Media as producer/digital media specialist on “The Wally Show.” He replaces Zach Boehm, who was promoted to director/digital content. According to network program director Todd Stach, “Gavin has lived up to everything we saw and loved about him in the interview process. He’s a great culture fit and I can’t wait to see him grow in his role.” Host of WAY-FM’s “The Wally Show,” “Wally,” notes, “It isn’t easy to replace Zach’s 12 years of history, experience, and chemistry; however, Gavin has a great attitude and a servant’s heart. He understands professional excellence and strives for that. He also understands the importance of kindness and treating people well, which are skills you cannot teach.” Granstrom comments, “It’s such an honor to join and serve alongside this incredibly talented team. I’m so thankful to have an opportunity to share life with WAY-FM listeners, and I can’t wait to be part of how God continues to work through the ministry.”
WGFX Lineup Modifications Debut Next Monday. Among the changes going into effect (8/14) at Cumulus Media Nashville sports talk WGFX “104.5 The Zone” is former Tennessee Titans safety and “Zone” host Blaine Bishop moving to 6:00 am – 10:00 am, co-hosting with Mark Howard and Kevin Ingram; Bishop had hosted the station’s “3HL” show since its debut in January 2010. Bishop emphasizes that next Monday is “not just another day – it’s a new opportunity and a new beginning. I’ve worked closely with Mark over the last 10 years with my involvement with the Titans and am looking forward to working with him and the ‘Wake Up Zone’ team. I can’t wait to break down the games with our fans every morning.” Former Titans tight end Frank Wycheck moves from “Wake Up Zone” co-host to analysis throughout the day. Wycheck joined the “Wake Up Zone” shortly after his retirement from the NFL in 2004 and he notes, “I am thrilled to continue playing a role on the ‘Wake Up Zone’ and look forward to providing analysis throughout the day.” Becoming Nashville radio’s first full-time female sports anchor, Dawn Davenport, who has covered sports in Nashville since 2008, will co-host the 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm “3HL” show with Brent Dougherty and Mickey Ryan. Davenport comments, “I am fortunate to jump back into sports in Nashville with such an amazing station full of talented and kind people. I’ve come to know and like Brent and Mickey over the last few years and cannot wait to join a team that works so hard every day to create an entertaining show for our great city.” Program director Brad Willis reasons, “Much like the sports teams we cover, we are always looking to put the best lineup on the field. These moves reflect our continued dedication to our position as Nashville’s top sports station, providing our listeners with the most in-depth coverage of their favorite teams. Blaine and Frank are cornerstone pieces of the Titans franchise during their time in Nashville. Their intimate knowledge of the Titans and the Nashville sports landscape is unparalleled. Dawn Davenport has immersed herself in the Nashville sports community. As someone who has covered every team in this town, and as a former SEC athlete, we are excited to have her join Brent and Mickey.”
Westwood One “Summer of Love” Retrospective Revisits Counterculture Revolution. Airing next weekend (8/18 – 8/20), Westwood One News’ half-hour “Summer of Love” special looks back at the counterculture revolution that defined the summer of 1967 from a 50-year perspective. Hosted by Westwood One News correspondents Jim Roope (Los Angeles) and Steve Kastenbaum (New York), the program features iconic pop and rock music from that summer, along with use of Westwood One News archives, including interviews with pop culture figures of the time such as Abbie Hoffman, professor Timothy Leary, rock manager Bill Graham, and singer Scott McKenzie. Regarding the latter, Westwood One producer George Achaves, who produced the 1987 “Summer of Love” 20th anniversary special, recalls that he had read a Washington Post interview with McKenzie’s mother. “She happened to live in an apartment building a block away from our office at the time. I looked her up in the phone book, called her out of the blue, and she put me in touch with her son, who was living in Lake Tahoe. Before she hung up, she said to me, ‘If you speak with him, please tell him to call his mother once in a while.’ McKenzie gave me great stories about the Monterey Pop Festival and his hit song ‘San Francisco: Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair.’”
CBS Sports Radio Tweaks Weekend Programming. The one-word reason for the adjustments is “football” and as CBS Sports Radio director of programming Eric Spitz confirms, “Our listeners love football season so we’re excited to bring them another dedicated weekend schedule around one of their all-time favorite sports. This year’s lineup includes both CBS Sports Radio and CBSSports.com hosts and analysts, experts on the game and true fans themselves.” In three weeks (Saturday, 9/2), CBS Sports Radio anchor Rich Ackerman begins hosting “Eye on College Football,” which extends from 12:00 noon to 8:00 pm. On a rotating basis, CBSSports.com senior fantasy football writers Adam Aizer, Jamey Eisenberg, and Dave Richard oversee “Eye on Fantasy Football” (10:00 pm -12:00 midnight). Co-hosted by Nick Kostos, Heath Cummings, Jamey Eisenberg, Pete Prisco and Dave Richard, a simulcast of CBSSports.com‘s “Fantasy Football Today” will air Sundays 11:00 am -12:00 noon. The following Sunday (9/10), CBS Sports Radio’s Damon “DA” Amendolara hosts “Sunday Morning Football” (9:00 am -11:00am), and for the first time, this program will be simulcast on watchDA.com. Rich Ackerman returns for “Eye on Football” from 12:00 noon to 8:00 pm.
PPM Data – Part Four. July 2017 ratings information has been released for Austin, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Providence, Norfolk, Greensboro, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Memphis, and Hartford. Nielsen Audio’s July 2017 survey period covered June 22 – July 19. View all the 6+ numbers from subscribing stations here.
Nielsen Audio To Revise Austin and Fargo Data. Audience estimates for Entercom Austin urban AC KKMJ-HD3 were inadvertently omitted from that market’s July 2017 PPM report which Nielsen Audio released yesterday (Thursday, 8/10); see above. A revised Austin report will be made available next Wednesday (8/16) in which audience estimates will be reported for KKMJ-FM HD3. Audience estimates for other Austin stations will not be affected. Some select Nielsen services will report KKMJ-FM HD3 as KKMJ-F3. KKMJ-FM HD3’s status as a subscribing HD-Multicast station eligible for reporting apparently had not been entered into one of the ratings company’s internal systems. Likewise, a revision to the company’s just issued spring 2017 Fargo-Moorhead book will be released next Wednesday (8/16) as well. In this case, Brooke Ingstad (Radio Wahpeton Breckenridge) classic hits-oldies KEGK “106.9 The Eagle” was incorrectly reported as a “non-metro” station. The updated report for that market will indicate KEGK as home to the metro. While audience estimates for all stations listed will remain the same, KEGK will be included with “metro” stations, as well as the “in the book” and “all stations” sections.
“Score” Seeking Chicago’s Next Fantasy Football Expert. The search begins next Thursday (8/17) through a series of live auditions where listeners of CBS Radio Chicago sports talk WSCR “670 The Score” will have the opportunity to showcase their writing and broadcasting talents on-site at various local venues. Program and operations director Mitch Rosen comments, “This is an amazing opportunity for a diehard fan to participate in the action on-air and online. With fantasy football continuing to grab our listeners’ attention, I look forward to finding the right candidate who can provide an exceptional perspective in a highly visible role with the station.” The “expert” will contribute to the station’s on-air and online fantasy football content by offering tips and strategies for anyone managing their own fantasy football team throughout the 2017 NFL regular season. The winner will appear every Sunday between 8:00 am and 9:00 pm on the Joe Ostrowski show and write a weekly column for CBSChicago.com.
WBUR Opens Dorchester Bureau. A partnership that began this week in The Hub’s largest and mostpopulous neighborhood finds Boston University-owned WBUR “Boston’s NPR News Station” opening a bureau inside the newsroom of The Dorchester Reporter. WBUR’s bureau includes a fully-functioning radio studio, allowing WBUR reporters and Dorchester Reporter journalists to broadcast live. On its own, Boston suburb Dorchester would qualify as Massachusetts’ fifth-largest city.
U.S.-North Korea Tensions Story Tops the Talkers TenTM This Week. Intensifying rhetoric between President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jon Un was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of August 7 – August 11, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 was the ongoing investigation in the president’s relationship with Russia. Coming in at #3 are the continuing feuds between West Wing advisors – focusing on the current tensions between Stephen K. Bannon and H.R. McMaster. #4 were stories mounting up about claims of sexism and sexual harassment aimed at women by the prevailing culture in Silicon Valley focusing on the recent Google memo. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Gaines Grabs Afternoons at Atlanta’s “Kicks 101.5.” It will be easy for Scott Gaines to remember the “Kicks” handle in his new job: The Southeastern Oklahoma State University grad is transferring from afternoon drive duty at Cumulus Media Memphis country outlet WGKX “Kix 106” to co-owned/similarly-formatted WKHX “Kicks 101.5,” Atlanta. In addition to doing afternoons (3:00 pm – 7:00 pm) at WKHX, Gaines will be the station’s assistant program director. Cumulus Media Atlanta vice president/market manager Sean Shannon states, “It is exciting to see a person of Scott’s caliber join ‘Kicks 101.5.’ Our listeners, clients, partners, and staff all win with this move.” Program Director Scott Lindy remarks, “The high level of Scott’s talent, experience, and dedication to the craft of creating great radio is a perfect fit for ‘Kicks 101.5.’ Our listeners are in for a treat – we’re gaining a very strong internal player.” Gaines notes, “I have only met Sean Shannon once and can already see why his leadership has created a winning team. I’ve been a huge fan of Scott Lindy’s and am honored to join his team.” Gaines – who begins his new assignment in just over three weeks (9/5) – previously was assistant program director/music director/afternoon drive talent at iHeartMedia Detroit’s WDTW (when it was “106.7 The Fox”), and afternoon personality for Cumulus Media Nashville country outlet WSM-FM “95.5 Nash Icon.”
Radio Show to Feature Lovato Performance. The headliner in the annual “Music and Mimosas” event for next month’s NAB and RAB Radio Show is Demi Lovato. RAB president and chief executive officer Erica Farber comments, “We are thrilled to welcome Demi Lovato and the extraordinary talent represented by some of the industry’s most influential record labels to ‘Music & Mimosas.’ This must-attend session provides attendees with exclusive ‘listens’ to music from a variety of genres and serves as the perfect bookend to the radio industry’s hottest event.” The Radio Show will be held September 5 – 8 in Austin at the JW Marriott, with Lovato’s performance scheduled for (Friday) September 8. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) produce “Music & Mimosas.”
Cumulus Media Flint Designates Dymond VP/MM. Most recently market manager for Community Broadcasters’ five-station Watertown, New York cluster, Nancy Dymond is appointed vice president and market manager for Cumulus Media Flint, Michigan, which consists of five stations as well. Regional vice president/market manager of Cumulus Media Saginaw-Flint-Ann Arbor Chris Monk remarks, “It is great to have Nancy back in Flint. This is a market she knows and it is an area she loves. Nancy is the perfect person to lead our Flint team.” Dymond comments, “I couldn’t be more excited to be home and work with such a great community and stations.” Dymond was Cumulus Media Flint’s market manager from 2000 – 2004. Prior to that, she was general manager for Max Media of Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna Valley stations and general manager of Connoisseur Media-owned stations in Erie, Pennsylvania. The five Cumulus Media Flint properties are urban AC WDZZ “Z-92.7”; country WFBE “95.1 Nash FM”; sports talk WTRX “Xtra 1330”; news/talk WWCK-AM “SuperTalk 1570”; and CHR WWCK-FM “CK 105.5.”
WMYX Teams Kay and Hess in Morning Drive. The 5:00 am – 9:00 am on-air partnership of Elizabeth Kay and Tony “Radar” Hess (“Elizabeth & Radar”) starts next Monday (8/14) on Entercom Milwaukee hot AC WMYX “99.1 The Mix.” Entercom Milwaukee vice president of operations Brian Kelly comments, “I am excited for the new morning show and I am confident that ‘Elizabeth & Radar’ will bring the energy our listeners crave in the morning. ‘Radar’ has been part of waking up Milwaukee for the past 17 years and is extremely embedded in the community. I can’t think of a better match to join Elizabeth Kay.” Regarding Hess, Kay notes, “I am beyond excited for the opportunity to work with him again. Our paths crossed early on in my career, and I have always had great respect for him as a radio host, and who he is as a person. ‘Mix’ listeners will have a show they’ll be able to relate to and enjoy for many years to come.” Hess adds, “I am so very grateful for the opportunity at ‘The Mix.’ I stay in radio, and stay local – this only happens in dreams.” From January 2000 to March 2017, Hess was at cross-town iHeartMedia-owned WMIL “106.1 Milwaukee’s Best Country,” where he was morning drive co-host; Kay has been part of “Mix” AM drive shows since 2009.
Seacrest Signs Overall Pact with ABC Studios. A multi-year overall deal is in-place between iHeartMedia CHR KIIS “102.7 Kiss-FM” morning talent Ryan Seacrest’s Ryan Seacrest Productionsand ABC Studios. RSP’s scripted division will develop scripted projects exclusively for ABC Studios at all television networks and platforms, including broadcast, basic and premium cable, and on-demand services. Nina Wass is president of RSP’s scripted programming and Seacrest remarks that, “Under Nina’s leadership, our scripted team has achieved great success. Her creativity, hard work, and key talent relationships have helped us achieve an impressive slate in a short period of time. We have worked with ABC Studios in the past, and we hope our partnership will serve to further our collective success. It is an honor for us to now call ABC Studios home for our scripted division.” The arrangement comes following Seacrest joining Kelly Ripa as co-host and fellow executive producer on Disney/ABC’s “Live with Kelly & Ryan.” ABC/Fremantle recently announced that Seacrest will rejoin “American Idol” for its first season on the network. Seacrest hosts and executive produces ABC’s annual “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.” Ryan Seacrest Productions’ scripted division previously had an overall deal at CBS TV Studios. Ryan Seacrest photo by Sara Jaye Weiss/REX/Shutterstock (8827927a) – KIIS-FM Wango Tango Concert, May 22, 2017.
More Music Radio News and Career Moves. Nighttime talent Ashley Z leaves Cumulus Media Atlanta CHR WWWQ “Q-100” ….. To a morning show lineup which already includes Tracy Dixon and Guy David, Bonneville Denver country outlet KYGO adds Aaron “Goose” Seller, who for the past ten years, has done morning drive on Cumulus Media Colorado Springs adult contemporary KKPK “92.9 Peak FM.” KYGO program director John E. Kage states that with the addition of Seller, “We now have all the pieces of what will be a great morning show for the Denver audience for years to come.” ….. Adult contemporary WXLY “Y-102.5,” Charleston, South Carolina program director and morning drive talent Brian Cleary tacks on PD responsibilities at iHeartMedia country cluster-mate WEZL “103.5 Charleston’s #1 for New Country.” He succeeds Tyler Reese, who exited earlier this month. Cleary has spent nine of his 15 years with iHeartMedia in Charleston; he programmed WEZL for three years (2012 – 2015) prior to Reese’s arrival ….. After approximately 17 months as midday host of WGNA “107.7 Today’s Country,” Marissa Lanchak leaves the Townsquare Media Albany, New York station. Lanchak previously worked at cross-town Pamal CHR WFLY “Fly 92.3” ….. One week from Monday (8/21), Hannah Damas inherits the 11:00 am – 3:00 pm shift at Midwest Communications Green Bay-Appleton-Oshkosh (Wisconsin) country outlet WNCY “Y-100.” Damas succeeds Randy “Shotgun” Shannon, who now co-hosts morning drive with Charli McKenzie (“Shotgun & Charli”) ….. A flurry of activity within New South Radio Jackson, Mississippi finds the midday host of country WUSJ “US-96” – Nikki Brown – elevated to program director, succeeding Nate West, who remains in-place as morning drive co-host. Scott Steele, West’s on-air wakeup teammate at “US-96,” adds programming duties at classic country sibling WHJT “93.5 The Legend.” Over at CHR WYOY “Y-101,” music director/midday personality Charlie Buchwald replaces the exiting Carson Case as program director. Meanwhile, adult contemporary WJKK “Mix 98.7” morning co-host Brian Staufffer takes on added “director of digital” responsibilities for the entire cluster.